Friday, September 14, 2012

Muggles Beware

The Dangerous Emma Watson
If you are one of the thousands Muggles that think receiving an email from actor Emma Watson is such a huge honor and something to brag about, then think again.

According to McAfee, the "Harry Potter" star Emma Watson has landed the dubious honor of "most dangerous cyber celebrity." Watson has knocked Heidi Klum out of the number one spot with Jessica Biel taking the number two spot and Eva Mendes coming in third.

This is the first year that the top 10 dangerous celebrities were all female, making women the more dangerous gender for now, at least when it comes to online crime. And among the women, the Latinas have proven that they are on fire and make up five of the top ten spots. After Mendes, Selena Gomez, Shakira and Salma Hayek take the fourth, seventh and ninth spot and Sofia Vergara rounds out the top 10 list. Funnyman Jimmy Kimmel is the only male to make the top 20 list this year.

For the sixth year in a row, McAfee researched popular culture's most famous people to reveal the riskiest Hollywood actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, designers, and comedians on the Web. The antivirus company reported that cybercriminals track the latest celebrity gossip, then lure fans to fake sites that steal personal information and passwords.

Anyone looking for the latest videos or files to download could end up with a malware-ridden computer along with the trendy content. This year, searching for a celebrity name with "free downloads" and "nude pictures" as part of the search term resulted in the highest result of risky sites.

"In today's celebrity culture, consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favorite celebrities. Due to the richness of the data and the high interaction, often times consumers forget the risks that they are taking by clicking on the links," said Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee.

"As the sophistication and expectations of consumers with respect to their online experience has increased, so has the level and ability to deliver malware either by malvertising, exploiting the user's browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs," Greve added.

The report also revealed that searches for photos and downloads of Watson do have a downside: Lookups on the Brit have a more than 12 percent chance to land on a malicious site. Instead of photos of the British star, a user can end up with a computer virus, annoying or intrusive software like ad spam or worse.

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